Review

Santa Fe Dead

by Stuart Woods

Attorney Ed Eagle relaxes in his Los Angeles hotel room while
waiting for the summation and the jury’s verdict in his
former wife’s murder trial. She had targeted him for
extinction but mistakenly shot and killed the occupants of an
adjacent hotel room in San Diego. A slight possibility exists that
someone besides Barbara is responsible for the deaths. Readers will
be hooked at the end of the first chapter when informed that
Barbara has escaped from a court conference room. Ed is once again
in line to become SANTA FE DEAD, an appropriate book title.

The action switches to Barbara’s whereabouts. She has
undergone a hair and makeup makeover and is lounging by the pool at
a private spa. She’s on the prowl for a new provider, a man
with a hefty bank account. An excellent prospect turns up poolside
--- wealthy widower Walter Keeler. Using her utmost feminine
charms, Barbara becomes the next Mrs. Keeler, heir to his
fortune.

Meanwhile, Ed and his girlfriend, actress Susannah Wilde, gear up
for a confrontation with his former bride. With Barbara, threats
are second nature, and Ed knows she’ll follow through.
Susannah’s ex-husband poses an additional danger. To
complicate matters, the jurors in Los Angeles have acquitted
Barbara of the murder charges. Ed hires private investigator Cupie
Dalton to locate his ex-wife and carries a gun for protection. But
livelihood calls and Ed takes on a new client, Don Wells.

Don is a Hollywood producer and owner of numerous residences, with
one in Santa Fe, Barbara’s hometown. His wife and son are
reported to be kidnapped, and he calls Barbara from Rome to check
out the Santa Fe residence. “It smelled like a butcher
shop” is the chilling description that author Stuart Woods
uses to paint the scene. Donna Wells is heir to a pharmaceutical
fortune, but she and her boy are very dead. Police focus on her
husband for a motive, yet his alibi is solid.

The novel moves back and forth between major characters and various
locations, yet interest remains strong because of masterful
writing. Near-sympathy is achieved for Barbara when her new husband
is killed. But she does not disappoint when her ulterior motives
resurface. Her attorney throws a wrench into her plans when the
will is read, putting her rich-widow status in doubt.

SANTA FE DEAD moves quickly through its clever storyline and strews
numerous bodies in the path to its conclusion. Personalities become
entangled when complications link greed, murder, cover-ups and
intrigue. The author streamlines the action and interlaces some
romance with a bit of homicide. His storytelling ability surpasses
the mundane detective/lawyer mysteries common to the genre.

From California to Mexico to Santa Fe, Stuart Woods describes
colorful settings with an economy of words. His experience as a
pilot is clear when he puts his characters in the air. He has
researched the movie industry and displays his knowledge in writing
about stunt men and back lot scenes. Less than 300 pages, SANTA FE
DEAD is a quick read and looks to be a vacation favorite for the
summer.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 23, 2011

Santa Fe Dead
by Stuart Woods

  • Publication Date: April 22, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399154906
  • ISBN-13: 9780399154904